15 July 2016

Catch-up!



They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  Given how neglectful I've been of this space, I figure these photos will do a better job than my words.  

In case you don't know, homemade raw butter is a real treat!  The kids love making butter from the spring and summer milk.  It's so vibrant (almost neon!) compared to the winter milk.  Sorry my photo is too dark to tell.  Anyhow, very cool.  And delicious!  










Since summer has begun, we have been adjusting to new routines.  I do prefer the times where we are all together, working, playing, discovering and just being alongside each other.  However, this year has been harder adjusting than I remember.  I seem to have a hard time putting my foot down and actively creating order and respect.  This is a bit of an adjustment for me, but we are making progress. 


Our summer routine is rooted in home life.  Thanks to some advice from a dear friend, I have recently changed the rhythm of our mornings.  We start our day with prayer, then breakfast.  Breakfast is a family affair where we all prepare breakfast, set the table and then sit down to eat.  I started reading the Prologue to the children during breakfast - it keeps them from squabbling and we learn about the lives of the saints for each day.  This is a great blessing.  They love hearing the lives of the saints - each has several favourites they regularly demand to hear!  I must say though that D does the best Bible stories.  What can I say?  He has a gift!  

After breakfast, we clean up.  Someone washes the dishes, another washes and wipes the table, another .  Then we start our work for the day.  Each day has its own work- usually it includes at least one chore for each person.  I anticipate at least another couple of weeks before the routine solidifies for us all.  (Fingers crossed!)



M has developed allergies - he was quite miserable this past May.  Thankfully, the past few weeks have been much better.  I hope I'm not speaking too soon though, because this morning he was complaining that his eyes were bothering him again.  :(





On the long weekend we picked peas at a local farm with some family and friends.  That's always a favourite activity with the kids.  Afterwards we went for a walk in old Unionville and then ice cream at the Old Firehall Confectionary.  It was S's birthday that weekend too, so now we have a 3 year old at home.  We got her a balance bike and I managed to finish her a messenger bag.  (She was long overdue...)  We were skeptical that she would get anything out of it, but I have to say that bike gets a ton of use.  Everywhere we go, the bike comes.  I have to say it was the best investment we've made this summer!  :)    



 Of course, can't forget about the Toronto FC game this kids got to attend!  This is about the only shot I got.  We got so into the game that I forgot about the camera.   It was great! 


That was a cake I made last month.  A cream cheese stuffed banana chocolate chip coffee cake.  It's as good as it sounds.  And filling enough that one slice was enough for me.  Here is the recipe.  (You're welcome!)

I wish you a sunny weekend!  

25 May 2016

A few firsts

We had a delicious long weekend visiting our dear family.  It was full to the brim of goodness.  And lots of firsts.  First time milking a cow, first time riding a pony, first time mucking out stalls, first time travelling by night.  For the record, all our firsts turned out to be wonderful experiences.  (Whew!)


   
By the way, raw milk is everything it's cracked up to be and more!  It's so creamy and rich and delicious!  Tastes different than the store bought kind, even the 3%.  And when you're the one who's milked the cow, you know pretty much all you need to know about your milk.  :)  The kids drank lots of milk.  They even had homemade frozen yogurt.  Yum!  I think that was one of S's favourite parts.  




This my farmer boy.  And what a funny sight for me as I find that usually he won't go near the source of any bad odours.  Not so here.  Did I mention how much I want a farm?  A mama can dream.  Although the bug situation was absolutely incredible!  So many bugs!  Flies, mosquitoes, you name it!  All around.  All the time.  Poor M got eaten alive. 


My equestrian children.  They couldn't get enough rides.  I think they must have ridden for at least an hour.  Enough for me to put the baby to bed and take a nap myself.


With all the fresh air, space and love, the kids were really in heaven.  My heart was so full there.  We all seem to find a sort of inner rest in Panagia's garden.  

We drove back during the night and the kids conked out for at least the last 2 hours.  And I must admit I did too.  Thank goodness D was our trusty driver.  He never disappoints.  I feel blessed to have him around so much.  

Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

20 May 2016

Little scientists



So, those dandelions from last week?  They spoiled.  I should've known they needed to be fully covered with oil, but no, a few heads did poke out.  And now we must needs start over.  Good thing there are still plenty of dandelions around!  But goodness, I feel so scatterbrained these days.  (Or maybe I've always been that way and I'm only seeing it now at last?)

A few messy things taken care of and now I can focus on the shopping part of my list.  The biggest item is a new bike for J.  She is patiently waiting, though I hope to surprise her before next week when the weather gets much nicer.  My kids do love riding their bikes anywhere they can.  And because it's getting ridiculous trying to fit three bikes and a stroller in our trunk, we're on the lookout for a decent bike rack.  :)



We are hoping to plant some tomatoes next week.  It may have to be a little later, because, of course, schedules have a way of getting ridiculously busy all of a sudden.  And that's ok.  The plants are already growing in their cosy pots, so we have some time.  I love spring.



This past week we learned that pine cones can help predict the weather.  They close when it's going to rain and open if not.  This is to guard the seeds inside the pine cone, of course.  It has to do with the moisture in the air.  We put one in a cup of water and it closed in about 5-10 minutes.  And then we set it on the window sill and the next morning it was open!  The little ones just LOVED it! Fascinating stuff these pine cones.  M took one to school for a class demonstration.  If you've never done it, it's so worth it just to see the kids faces light up with wonder.



I think the next thing we need to research are ants.  They are fascinating to little eyes and hands.  Here the kids are making a mountain for the ants.  They actually buried a colony they found and just kept building "ant mountain" upwards.  They even dug a trench around it.  Perhaps we shall even get to medieval castle building if there's time...  

Wishing you many such adventures with little scientists to keep you young at heart.

10 May 2016

The best things in life are free





Life has changed so much since two months ago.  Baby M is not sleeping as well as she used to, so I get wakened up at least a couple times each night.  It's ok.  For some reason, could be that rosebud mouth or those cheeks, it doesn't bother me.  Also, my body seems to be able to function remarkably well with less sleep.  This is great news to me.  I don't ever remember feeling like this with the other three.  In fact, I often grew cranky being woken up so much at night.  Can only guess why it's not the same with this little lady.  Perhaps it took that long for me to understand or absorb an important truth: this too shall pass, and that precious baby will be grown up by tomorrow.

We went to the park this week almost every day after school.  The weather was beautiful and we all just ached to be outdoors.  :)  Once while we were there, I brought a bag and we picked dandelions.  There are so many of them in the fields and along the roads.  Even next to a small forest we found the ground just littered with golden blossoms.  Our picking didn't even make a dent in their numbers.  We are infusing them right now and are hoping to use the oil later in salves and soaps.



Anyhow.  The one bad thing I'm noticing is that I seem to have my sweet tooth back in full force.  To the extent that I know it can't be good for me to eat all that sugar.  After having exercised a little will-power during Lent, you'd think it'd be easy afterwards.  Not so.  I am in need of more "no sweets" periods.  Always found it easier to go cold turkey that be moderately restrictive.  Again, I puzzle as to why!  This bothers me because I have babies to take care of, and sugar robs me of needed energy.  Also, I can't fit my old clothes and I can't bring myself to buy new ones.  Catch 22.  Something's gotta give, I suppose.  I shan't give up though.  My body feels better with less sugar!



I am working on a few projects, lots of summer time activities for the kids.  And shopping.  J needs a new bike, D needs some clothes, a few gifts need buying.  Trouble is, I don't have the TIME for all that AND housekeeping.  Sometimes it's nice to have a helping hand.  I was so happy that M helped make pancakes Saturday morning.  To be fair, I had to be right there with him, and I ended up frying them.  However, we are on a path that will end with him relatively self-sufficient in the kitchen!  He really enjoys working with his hands so far.  Loves to build, construct and dismantle.  Very interested in how things work.  Only recently has he started asking why they work a certain way or what makes them function so.  That is an exciting journey since it opens up a whole new world to both of us.  Yesterday he finished building a model 4-cylinder gasoline engine.  We are learning the mechanics of this together.  Really cool stuff I tell you!  :)

And we are fast becoming a musical family.  The kids are humming, chirping and just singing all the time!  Catch them playing alone and they're usually singing a new tune.  I think it's the weather.  The change in seasons, more vitamin D, more physical activity... whatever it is.  I love it.  And I hope it's a herald of the coming days.  

3 May 2016

A post-Pascha post

After over a month, almost two of being absent here, you'd think I'd be bubbling over with news and goings-on.  The only real thing I feel like sharing is just how tired I am!  These past weeks have been just beautiful, and draining, and lovely and hard.  And now, descending slowly down to earth from heaven, if you will, I am struck by how spent I am.



In fact, the only ambition I have is to make a good hearty pot of bone broth soup.  That's what my body needs, I think.  And curl up with a good book, perhaps outside in the sun.  :)  I doubt very much any of that will happen, except the soup, but it's nice to dream!  I am so thankful for the sunshine.  It just perks my mood right up!  In fact, on this second day of May, I am thankful for many things...

- for Skype, WhatsApp, and connecting to far away sisters

- for birdsong, and the muted chirping going on just before dawn

- for seeing a 5-year old so excited to paint something

- for kindred spirits, dear friends, and good company

- for feast days

- for quieter and often cuddly moments with a certain 2 year old darling

- for baby coos, smiles and peekaboo laughing (and those kissable cheeks!)

- for the warm sunshine on my back, my shoulders and my hands... especially after a seemingly long winter

- for the joy of running after little children outside

- for planning gardens, plants, and just anything green sprouting!

- for deep conversations in the car with a seven-year old on route to wherever

- for painting.  Oh how I've missed painting.  I could shout with the sheer joy of picking up a paintbrush!

- for reading together in the evenings before bed




I wish you many such thankful moments!  Christ is risen!

23 March 2016

Yarn Along



Plugging away on a sweater... and Simplicity Parenting.  I find it a very helpful reminder to slow things down.  It's definitely been akin to taking the temperature of your family to make sure you're not sick.  :)  

Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.

7 March 2016

Just before Lent



We've had the mildest winter I can remember so far.  This week it's supposed to get into the teens!  (For my American friends, that's in the 50s F.)  We've had sporadic skating adventures here and there, but they haven't been as often as we'd have liked.  That's partly because I wasn't up for skating until mid to late January, and after that because of the periodic thaws we've had.  



That being said, I have to say that skating at night is fun!  It's something I don't remember doing when I was growing up.  I think I prefer the day, just because of the warmth factor of the sun (brrr!), but I'm glad we got to go at night too.





More shots of the little ones here.  :)  Little M is growing.  Cheeks and all.  Our baby is almost 4 months now!  She's easily the best sleeper I've had.  Of course, they change at the drop of a hat, so I'm not really holding my breath.  We shall take things as they come.  My new motto!  (And it took 4 kids for me to be ok with that!)  


We had a snow day (the first this year) and we got to enjoy our day together without rushing.  That is a gift to me.  More and more, I find I can't do rush.  I get anxious inside, I get panicked and that's usually when I start yelling or snapping.  And even if I'm not shouting, I certainly am not enjoying the moment.  I miss out on a lot in retrospect.  M will come to me trying to share a cool fact he's learned, or J will want to have a conversation to process something new, and I'm basically not there for them.  So you can imagine how much this mama enjoys leisurely days with her brood!    

Lent is almost here.  One week left to go.  The Great fast.  My kids are actually very excited to fast.  Their schoolmates are almost finished Lent, but they are raring to go.  I can't say I am excited for the Fast, but I have to say I am looking towards it with a sort of relief.  Perhaps eagerness too.  It is a journey of intentional reflection, of inner quiet, of sober undertaking.  And so, I will most likely be absent here in large part. 

Until we meet again, I wish you a wonderful spring!